Our degrees through the decades

The founding of the University of London by Royal Charter brought together the recently founded institutions of King’s College London and University College London.

The University’s functions were limited initially to conducting examinations and granting degrees, while the teaching of so-called ‘internal’ students was the responsibility of the Colleges. The University now comprises 17 autonomous Colleges of outstanding reputation offering over 3,700 courses.

In 1858 the University opened its degree to ‘external’ students regardless of where they had studied. This included students who attended the predecessor institutions of universities such as Birmingham, Bristol, Durham, Manchester, Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Queen's University Belfast and University College Dublin. Today the University of London International Programmes provides distance learning courses to over 54,000 students worldwide.

Would you have passed the exam?

Bachelor of Medicine
In case of a human stomach being  handed to you for examination under suspicious circumstances, how would you proceed to satisfy yourself whether it contained poison or not?

BA Classics

Translate into Latin prose: As he was musing on his present condition, and very much perplexed in himself on the state of life he should choose, he saw two women, of a larger stature than ordinary, approaching towards him. One of them had a very noble air and graceful deportment. Her beauty was natural and easy, her person clean and unspotted, her eyes cast towards the ground with an agreeable reserve, her motion and behaviour full of modesty, and her raiment white as snow...

BA Mathematics and Mechanical Philosophy
What is the distinction between a musical note and a noise? State what notes can be sounded with a pipe of given length open at both ends.

BA English

What is the meaning of the word Werewolf? Mention any cognate forms. State what you know of the history of the superstition known as Lycanthropy.

BA French
Translate into French: Scrooge then remembered to have heard that ghosts in haunted houses were described as dragging chains. The cellar-door flew open with a booming sound, and then he heard the noise much louder, on the floors below; then coming up the stairs; then coming straight towards his door. “It’s humbug still!” said Scrooge...

BSc Chemistry
Explain the nature, from a chemical point of view, of the chief operations involved in the production of a photograph.

Bachelor of Laws
Sir John A. engaged an artist to paint a picture of his three daughters. He agreed in writing to pay 300 guineas for the picture, and sent the artist a cheque for 50 guineas on account. Subsequently it was arranged that Lady A. should be added to the group, so as to have mother and daughters in one picture, for which Sir John A. verbally promised to pay 400 guineas. Is this latter promise enforceable?

BSc Zoology
Discuss the composition and distribution of “Plankton”.

BA Philosophy
In what sense is it true that social inequalities increase with the advance of civilisation?

BA Geography
Discuss the conditions which control the development of the following: Hanging valleys, misfit valleys, canyons, and incised meanders.

Questions compiled by Jonathan Harrison, Rare Books Librarian, Senate House Libraries


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Colleges and Institutes of the University of London